Courtesy of Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

Mario Jones ’11, a lead engineer with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), learned the value of mentoring from several physics faculty when he was a student at Longwood.

Now, he’s the mentor in his role as the lead of the mechanical design program within VTTI’s Division of Technology Development and Deployment. In addition to mentoring other mechanical engineers and technicians, he provides guidance on the development of mechanical designs to program researchers and serves as an interface between the mechanical design program and the various research groups throughout VTTI.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in physics, Jones first worked as a fiber optic research technician at Luna Innovations. Transitioning from that job into transportation research at VTTI in 2013 has a personal significance for him. In July 2011, his father was involved in a car crash and, tragically, did not survive. For that reason, Jones’ current role in making transportation safer is especially gratifying.

What is Jones most proud of when it comes to his work at VTTI?

“VTTI has executed projects and vehicle modifications that have never been done successfully before. The vehicle that we modified to be driven mainly from the rear passenger seat gets the most reaction from pedestrians and other drivers on the road.

“I love the variety of projects at VTTI and how creative we must be in the mechanical group to answer different research questions,” he said.

He gives Longwood a sizeable portion of the credit for preparing him for success in his career.

“I feel that I would not be where I am today without Dr. Michelle Parry, Dr. Timothy Holmstrom and Dr. Chris Moore,” said Jones. “These professors provided invaluable information and insight into both what physics ‘is’ and more importantly why physics matters—and how the sky is the limit (literally!) for physics majors.”—From staff reports and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

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